Pear and pomegranate salad for Tu B’Shevat

Photo by Jessica Grann

By Jessica Grann

It’s a beautiful custom on Tu B’Shevat to share and serve foods with all sorts of tree fruits and tree nuts. Often for this holiday, we tend to see dried fruit platters, but here is a recipe that I think is fresh and interesting. This yummy salad pairs peppery arugula, fresh pear and apple, and tart pomegranate seeds with creamy goat cheese. You can make this salad, including the homemade ginger dressing and candied pecan topping, in under 15 minutes. It looks and tastes like a masterpiece, with beautiful colors and textures.

To save time, you can make the pecans and dressing a day ahead, and quickly throw it together before serving your meal. I often take this to brunch when asked to bring a salad to a friend’s home.

Tu B’Shevat begins this year at sundown on Jan. 27.

For the salad
1 5- or 6-ounce bag arugula lettuce, or a combination of arugula and spring mix
2 ounces plain goat cheese, or more if you like
2 pears
1 apple, your choice of variety
½ cup pomegranate seeds
For the dressing
2 teaspoons fresh ginger or two frozen ginger pods. I keep these stocked in the freezer
¼ cup good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper

For the candied pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons water
A pinch of coarse kosher salt
1 small dash of vanilla extract

For the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a Ball jar, put the lid on and shake until emulsified. Do not use dried ginger for this recipe. I love the packages with frozen ginger for ease, but if you have fresh ginger, it does help to place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before grating it.

Toast the pecans over medium heat in a sauté pan for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the brown sugar, water, salt and vanilla together. After the pecans seem to be toasting nicely, drizzle the sugar mixture over the pecans. Stir with a spatula for about a minute until the pecans are coated. Remove from heat, and turn the pecans out onto parchment paper to cool.

This gives the sugar coating a chance to adhere.

Slice the pears and apple in half. Leave the skin on for color. Core, and thinly slice each half of the fruit. Arrange the arugula on a platter. You can use a bowl, but I prefer a platter for the presentation.

Arrange the pear and apple slices, taking several pieces and fanning them out. Place some with skin up and some with skin down. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, then follow with the pomegranate seeds and candied pecans. The ginger dressing adds a nice, bright zing. Lightly spoon the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.
This salad pairs beautifully with salmon.

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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